NOAA 2005-032
Contact: Glenda Powell
NOAA News Releases 2005
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In response to high public demand, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces a more user-friendly approach to accessing and viewing NOAA electronic navigational charts for non-navigational purposes. A complement to NOAA ENCs®, the NOAA ENC Direct to GIS Web portal provides comprehensive access to available ENC data in a variety of formats, allowing anyone, from students to coastal resource managers, an opportunity to view and use the data. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“With the creation of ENC Direct everyone from the outdoor enthusiast has an opportunity to benefit from electronic charting data,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This effort supports NOAA’s continuing mission to provide accurate and reliable charting data to support our nations commerce.”

Developed by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, ENC Direct allows anyone to view NOAA ENC data using an Internet browser from anywhere in the world. For the first time, the public can display data; zoom in and out; turn features on and off; query the features for more information; and most importantly download data in a variety of geographic information systems friendly formats. The downloaded data can be formatted for virtually all commercially available GIS systems and used for important national issues such as coastal zone management. This information is available at

Since their inception in 2001, over four million NOAA ENCs® have been downloaded, mostly by professionals from the maritime industry, who use NOAA ENCs® to support many applications including navigating in our nation’s waters, fish habitat mapping, emergency planning, homeland security and ocean jurisdictional mapping. However, the international standard for navigation data, in which the NOAA ENCs® are encoded, is incompatible with virtually all widely used GIS.

As a result, NOAA has received numerous public requests from GIS users who were interested in being able to access and view ENCs. Until the creation of ENC Direct, GIS users had to buy expensive translation software or use ENC conversion utilities that only worked with one particular company’s GIS software if they wanted to benefit from NOAA ENCs®.

ENC Direct represents an important new service to the GIS community and the public. The web portal supports the Geospatial One Stop project, a Presidential Government-to-Government Initiative focusing on sharing and integrating federal, state, local and tribal data, and enables more effective management of government business.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOAA’s National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand weather and climate-related events and to manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources.


NOAA’s National Ocean Service:

Office of Coast Survey:

ENC Direct: